Forensic linguistics is a sexy field. If you’re trying to work out who sent a text message or ransom note, or made an obscene phone call or bomb threat, or if there’s doubt about whether the deceased really wrote that suicide note, these folks will look at the language and help you figure it out.
Here’s a 10 minute extract from a lecture by one of the world’s top forensic linguists, Professor Malcolm Coulthard.
(If you get hooked, a full version of the lecture -it lasts an hour- can be seen here at Aston University’s website)
There’s a popular detective show called ‘Bones’ on US TV about a forensic anthropologist who looks at human remains to work out whodunit. And in another called ‘Lie to Me’, the hero uses facial recognition to figure it out. Surely linguistics is a much more interesting and credible science?
Somewhere waiting to happen, there’s a hit TV series with a linguistic detective as our hero/heroine. They would need to be an engaging character though, and they’d probably need to interestingly flawed in some way. But how might a linguist be flawed? Any thoughts on what they could be like? Does anyone fancy writing it?